Refuting the myth that Lithuanian expatriates in the United Kingdom care little about social problems at their home country, some members of the Lithuanian community wish to bring focus on what they think is the biggest social sore in Lithuania, suicide.

According to official statistics, almost one thousand people in Lithuania took their own lives last year. The country is infamously among world leaders in terms of suicide cases per population.

This painful issue will be the focus of a charity ball organized by the Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce in the UK (LCCUK) this November. All proceeds from the event will go to Youth Line (Jaunimo linija), an emotional support helpline for people who need help.

"This dark statistic has not gone down in years, which suggests that nothing has been done to tackle the problem, the situation stays the same. So we need to help those who fight suicide most effectively.

"We believe and we hope that the situation will improve in the near future," says LCCUK president Egonas Jakimavičius.

The LLCCUK, a union of Lithuanian entrepreneurs in the UK, invites everyone who cares about social problems in Lithuania and wish to contribute to their solution to the event in the Dorchester Hotel, London, on 6 November.

Jaunimo Linija is a non-governmental organization established in 1991. Its volunteers provide emotional support via a helpline and email. The best way to help a person who is thinking about committing suicide is to have an open talk with them, the organization believes. Some 250 unpaid volunteers work to respond to calls around the clock. However, current resources and technical limitations mean that only one call in seven gets answered.

"We would like to be able to answer at least one call in three," the organization's representatives say.

Proceeds from the LCCUK charity ball will go towards this goal.

The event this year is also dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Lithuania's independence; one of the guests of honour at the ball will be Vytautas Landsbergis, the first head of state of independent Lithuania.

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